The Supreme Court on Friday issued notice to the Centre on a plea to refer to the International Court of Justice the torture of Indian Army officer Capt. Saurabh Kalia by the Pakistani Army after he was captured during the 1999 Kargil war.
A Supreme Court bench of Justice R.M. Lodha and Justice Anil R. Dave issued notice after counsel Arvind Kumar Sharma told the court that the victim’s family approached the Defence Ministry seeking the matter be referred to the ICJ as Capt. Saurabh Kalia’s treatment after being captured violated the international convention on the treatment of prisoners of war.
The petition has been moved by Capt. Saurabh Kalia’s father N.K. Kalia.
The court was initially reluctant to issue notice on the grounds that the matter involved two countries and the Indian government should take up the issue with the ICJ.
At this, the court was told that Capt. Saurabh Kalia’s family has made every effort to seek justice. They had requested the Defence Ministry, which in turn said that matter has been referred to the Prime Minister’s Office, which said the matter was under the consideration of the External Affairs Ministry.
The court gave centre 10 days time to respond to the petition.
Capt. Saurabh Kalia of the 4 Jat Regiment was the first Indian Army officer to observe and report large-scale intrusion by the Pakistani Army into the Indian side of the Line of Control in the Kargil sector of Jammu and Kashmir.
Capt. Saurabh Kalia and five soldiers were captured on May 15, 1999 and were in captivity for over 22 days. The bodies were handed over to the Indian authorities on June 9, 1999.
The autopsy report of the Captain and the five soldiers revealed extreme torture including cigarette burns, pierced ear drums with hot rods and chopped off limbs and private organs before finally shooting them dead.
India and Pakistan fought a brief but bitter war in the icy heights of Kargil in May-July 1999. India took back all the positions that had been occupied by the Pakistani Army.
India lost 527 soldiers and Pakistan upwards of 700 men.